Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been detained in Russia on what he, his employer and the U.S. government deem phony espionage charges since March, had an appeal for his release denied by a Moscow court Tuesday, according to reports.
The court rejected Gershkovich’s appeal against the three-month extension of his pre-trial detention following a closed hearing, Reuters reported, noting that the Russian court’s press service did not give an explanation for the decision. Gershkovich will, therefore, remain in custody until at least Nov. 30.
The 31-year-old U.S. citizen was arrested in the city of Yekaterinburg, about 1,200 miles east of Moscow, while on a reporting trip March 29.
Gershkovich has been held in Moscow’s Lefortovo pre-trial detention center, notorious for its harsh conditions, ever since. Last month, a court in Moscow extended his detention until the end of November. He and his employer deny the allegations, and the U.S. government declared him to be wrongfully detained.
According to Reuters, Russian state news agency RIA reported that his appeal Tuesday was being sent back to a lower court because of unspecified “procedural violations.”
The espionage charges could carry up to 20 years in prison, and no trial date has been set yet.
On stage at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York City Tuesday, Almar Latour, CEO of Dow Jones CEO and publisher of The Wall Street Journal, addressed how Gershkovich’s continued detention in Russia impacts the presence of American journalists on assignments abroad.
“The cost of not being there is extremely high. For us, that means that even as we are confronted with a situation with Evan right now, we have a deep commitment to remaining present around the world,” Latour said. “Obviously, that’s been greatly complicated, but we can still, with that determination, extract major news even if the presence on the ground is not as big as before.”
Moderator Dana Perino, Fox News host and former White House press secretary, also asked Latour if he could comment on collaboration with the Biden administration on a potential prisoner swap.
Latour noted a recent WSJ piece about President Vladimir Putin wanting Russian assassin Vadim Krasikov, currently imprisoned in Germany, released in exchange for Gershkovich, noting the monetary, as well as “huge moral cost” of prisoner swap agreements.
“But that aside, we’ve been working very closely with the Biden administration. They have made it a priority very publicly to talk about this,” Latour said. “So for us, there’s only one metric that says that we’ve done enough and that is the day that Evan walks out of that prison and comes home.”
“It’s Evan, it’s a highly personal situation for him, for his family, for his colleagues. But there’s also this massive underlying issue of freedom of the press without freedom of press and no free society,” he added.
Russia’s Federal Security Service alleges Gershkovich, “acting on the instructions of the American side, collected information constituting a state secret about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex.” Russian authorities have not provided any evidence to support the espionage charges.
Gershkovich is the first American reporter to face espionage charges in Russia since September 1986, when Nicholas Daniloff, a Moscow correspondent for U.S. News and World Report, was arrested by the KGB.
Tuesday’s court appearance comes after U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy visited Gershkovich on Friday, according to a statement from the U.S. embassy in Moscow.
The ambassador has visited Gershkovich in prison several times since his arrest, most recently in August.
Following her visit on Friday, the U.S. embassy said on X, the platform previously known as Twitter, that Gershkovich “remains strong and is keeping up with the news – including his parents’ appearance at the UN this week,” and reiterated the call to release him and another American imprisoned in Russia on espionage charges, Paul Whelan.
Tracy’s visit came a day after Gershkovich’s parents and sister appeared in the United Nation’s headquarters in New York and called on world leaders to urge Russia to free the reporter.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has previously said it would consider a swap for Gershkovich – similar to the exchange of WNBA star Brittney Griner for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout — only in the event of a verdict in his trial. In Russia, espionage investigations and trials can last for more than a year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.